Best parks in Toronto

Roberto Machado Noa / Getty Images

Toronto has many pretty green spots within the city. Here are our picks for parks and outdoor spaces that capture the beauty of Southern Ontario right in the backyard of its biggest city.                                                                                                               

E.T. Seton Park

3 parks in 1! E. T. Seton Park and Wilket Creek Park link Edwards Gardens with Taylor Creek (described elsewhere in this list). You can combine both trails together for a total of 10 km. In spring and summer, Edwards Gardens are landscaped with floral displays. Wilket Creek and E. T. Seton Park have paved paths, lawns, and lots of trees featuring abundant birdlife.

Village of Yorkville Park

Consisting of a large rock, a boardwalk that meanders through tall grasses, and a curtain-like fountain, this quirky urban garden in Yorkville was designed by architect David Oleson. “The Rock”, which is approximately one billion years old, was removed in pieces from the Canadian glacial shield before being re-assembled here in 1994. Amazing!

Trinity Bellwoods Park

Located along trendy West Queen West, this large park is really popular with young locals on any warm sunny day. People sit alone or in groups on the grass, reading, chatting, or playing with their dogs. Grab a coffee from across the street, find a bench if you prefer, and crack open that novel.

Toronto Dominion Centre Park

The financial district is home to these seven bronze cows relaxing on the lawn between the towers of the Toronto-Dominion Centre. It’s a favourite lunch spot for office workers, and a photo op for visitors the rest of the time. Each cow in Joe Fafard’s sculpture “The Pasture” weighs 544 kg

High Park

This is Toronto’s largest public park. You can spend most of a day wandering around. For about a week in late April or early May, cherry blossoms blanket High Park. Keep an eye on their website to know the exact time. Most of the cherry trees (sakura) are near Hillside Gardens, between the restaurant and the pond. Bring a picnic. Or come early to avoid the crowds. Fall is also beautiful with the trees changing colours. A true photographer’s delight.

Saint James Park

The largest green area in Old Town, St James Park (adjoining its namesake church) has one of the prettiest English gardens in Toronto. A cast-iron fountain and benches provide a nice rest stop among the flowers. Plenty of trees offer shade and the wide lawns are perfect for spreading a blanket. The tulip displays in May are especially stunning.

Ireland Park

The Irish Memorial Garden commemorates the large influx of Irish immigrants who arrived on Toronto’s shores in 1847, fleeing persecution and starvation at home. Granite slabs forming the outline of a ship list the names of those who died on the journey (or shortly after). Emaciated statues stand bleakly where the immigration wharf used to be, south of Queen’s Quay and east of Bathurst Street.

Sugar Beach Park

The pink umbrellas create a cheery contrast to the blue lake and sky on a sunny day. Turn around and photograph downtown’s towers with the beach in the foreground. Or you may catch a huge ship unloading its cargo of sugar at The Redpath Sugar Refinery that gave this artificial beach its name.

Taylor Creek Park

Around mid to late October, Taylor Creek Park offers one of the best displays of fall colours in the city. Known almost exclusively to locals, a 5-kilometre paved path starts near Victoria Park subway station, then follows a creek through forested parkland. You’ll share the space with bicycles and people pushing strollers. Bring water. Washrooms are often locked

Toronto Island Park

This postcard view of Toronto’s skyline fronting the lake is taken from the Toronto Islands. You can stand in several spots to get a similar photo, including the Centre Island ferry boarding area (as shown here), Hanlan’s Point ferry area, Ward’s Island ferry area, and Ward’s village. If you want trees along the edges of your picture, look for a spot with a bench about halfway between Ward and Centre Island.

Scarborough Bluffs Park

This escarpment rises to 90 metres at its highest point and is about 15 km long. A park with flower beds and views over Lake Ontario welcomes you at the top. A nice walking trail below the bluffs leads through more parkland and then follows the lakeside.

Guild Park and Gardens

This unusual park on the edge of the city acts as an outdoor museum for 70-odd columns, sculptures, and building facades rescued from the demolition of historical buildings during the post-WWll building boom in Toronto. Some pieces measure 20 feet in height or weight several tons.

Evergreen Brick Works

This is a former brick quarry and industrial site located in the Don River Valley. The site has been converted into a city park featuring several naturalized ponds, while the buildings have been restored as a community and cultural centre focusing on the environment. There is a cafe on-site and some really amazing foliage colours in the fall.

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